10/11.06.1944 No. 625 Squadron Lancaster I ND995 Fl/Lt. Elmhirst-Baxter
Date: 10/11th June 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 625 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Kelstern, Lincolnshire
Location: At base on return
Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Charles Elmhirst-Baxter 119545 RAFVR - Safe, no injuries
Fl/Eng: Sgt Jack Blakey 1582692 RAFVR - Safe, no injuries
Nav: W/O. Wilfred John Edgar King AUS/417084 RAAF - Safe, no injuries
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Alfred J. Foley 658426 RAFVR - Safe, no injuries
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Francis Owen Evans AUS/417950 RAAF - Safe, no injuries
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. William Jeffrey Adcock AUS/426856 RAAF - Safe, no injuries
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Frank Percy Adams AUS/434217 RAAF Age 24. Seriously injured
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Kelstern in Lincolnshire at about 23:15 hrs on an operation to Achères.
After serving as an ambulance driver in the Australian Army in the Middle East, Frank Adams transferred into the Royal Australian Air Force an an air gunner.
Above: L-R: Fl/Sgt. Francis Owen Evans, Fl/Sgt. Alfred J. Foley, P/O. Rex Glasson and Fl/Sgt. Frank Percy Adams.
As the rear gunner he joined the crew of Fl/Sgt. Rex Glasson, Fl/Sgt. Bill Evans, Fl/Sgt. Alf Foley, Fl/Sgt. Jack Blakey, W/O. Fred King, Fl/Sgt. Bill Adcock.
Shortly after posting to 166 Squadron, the crew was orphaned when their pilot, 25 year old, Rex Glasson AUS/417300 RAAF failed to return from his ‘second dickie’ trip. Lancaster III ND705 AS-F piloted by 28 year old, Sq/Ldr. Donald Alec Sewell 47397 RAF from Hall Green, Birmingham, England - killed with all the other 7 crew on an operation to Frankfurt.
Once they had absorbed the loss of their skipper and adjusted to his replacement, Fl/Lt. Elmhirst-Baxter, they were posted to 625 Squadron RAF Kelstern to start their tour of operations.
They first appeared on the Battle Order of 24th May 1944 to attack Le Cliron. The trip aboard LM103 was uneventful. However, the next op to Melville on 27th May 1944 in ND995 was a dfferent story. Due to absence of any markers, the task was not carried out and the bombs were brought back to base. This may be significant in the unfolding of future events. The crew appeared to bond with ND995 and she was their regular mount for the next seven missions.
Their ninth operation, to Achères on the 10th June 1944 was uneventful until the landing at Base. On the rollout the tail wheel oleo failed and the rear turret detached. Fl/Sgt. Adams sustained critical head injuries and died later that day in the Base hospital.
Scott Raymond supplied this additional information:
"From the records and discussions with Fl/Sgt. Francis (Bill) Evans, my grandfather was killed upon landing when the rear turret detached from the fuselage after landing. Bill's recollection is that Frank was exiting the turret into the fuselage as the aircraft was taxiing, as he was excited about having fired upon a night fighter during the mission. Regardless, the RAAF records and letter from the Squadron C.O state that he suffered severe head injuries, was cut out of the turret, and died in the base medical facility in the evening of 11th June. Sadly, his daughter (my mother) was barely 16 months old at the time of his death".
It is quite possible that the structural failure of the tail wheel oleo was a result of limits being exceeded when ND995 landed with a full bomb load. Another explanation would be undetected battle damage sustained during one of the other raids. As a rule the Lancaster did not make a habit of self destructing on landing.
Above: L-R Rear - W/O. Wilfred John Edgar King, Fl/Sgt. William Jeffrey Adcock, Fl/Sgt. Frank Percy Adams, Fl/Sgt. Francis Owen Evans. Front: Fl/Sgt. Alfred J. Foley, P/O. Rex Glasson, Sgt Jack Blakey.
After repair ND 995 was posted to 100 Squadron as HW-K, lost on 25/26th August 1944 with F/O. Kenneth Francis Seage AUS/427154 and crew on the Russelsheim raid. The pilot, the only survivor after being blown out of the aircraft, taken PoW No: 5302 and held at Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang.
The following is taken from reports listed on the National Archives of Australia:
A statement by the pilot:
"At 04:05 hrs on the 11th June 1944 I landed on Runway 24. The landings a normal one and the aircraft completed its run without the use of brakes. When it had slowed down to about 20 mph I opened the outboard engines in order to clear the runway without unnecessary delay. Almost at once I noticed a slight tail shimmy then a jar. The aircraft swung slightly to port and. thinking the port main wheel had burst, I opened the starboard throttle to take aircraft off runway. The Mid-Upper Gunner then told me the rear turret was damaged. I switched off ignition and called the ambulance by R/T".
Report Submitted by Specialist Operators:
The Tail Strut had fractured immediately above the fork and from examination of the fracture this would appear to be due to faulty material. There are shimmy marks on the runway immediately before the failure took place, but the reason for the shimmying is not known as the Marstrand Tyre fitted is evenly worn. It may possibly be due to the line of thrust up the strut being displaced from the normal due to the fracture. The failure occurred about 1,400 yards from point of touchdown".
Conclusion by investigating officer:
The accident was due to failure of the tail wheel strut and that faulty material is strongly suspected. No blame whatsoever attached to the pilot who had made a good landing and taxied up the runway in a perfectly normal manner.
Note: The Squadron lost 3 other aircraft during this operation, the others:
Lancaster 1 LM139 CF-G Flown by F/O. W.P. Geeson - evaded capture with 4 others, 1 taken PoW with the rear gunner, 21 year old, Sgt. Leslie Turner Dunn 1650666 RAFVR killed.
Lancaster I ND742 CF-F Flown by 26 year old, P/O. James Dudman 174032 RAFVR - killed with all his 6 other crew members.
Lancaster I LL897 CF-P Flown by 21 year old, F/O. Alfred Ernest George Malin 151550 RAFVR - killed with all his other 6 crew members.
For acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty: Suggested decorations, Fl/Sgt. - Frank Percy Adams AUS/434217 RAAF - DFM. Seriously injured. eyewitness account.
Fl/Sgt. Frank Percy Adams. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13907/43. Born on the 03rd January 1920 in Oxford, England, the son of Percy and Mary Ann Adams and husband of Joan Marguerite Adams, of Toowong, Queensland, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "Loved And Mourned For In Australia: An Englishman Returns".
Other mentioned in this page:
Rex Arthur Glasson. Coxyde Military Cemetery, Belgium. Grave IV.N.10. Born on the 09th January 1919 at Kadina, South Australia, the son of Arthur John and Olive Helena Glasson and husband of Yvonne Jean Glasson, of Mile End, South Australia. Grave inscription reads: "Resting".
Researched by Scott Raymond Grandson of Frank Adams, with additional details supplied by Nic Lewis, Jack Albrecht and webmaster. Page dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to other sources as shown, as well as the National Archives of Australia.